Superlegitimacy

is the title of a lovely observational essay by Momus, who’s in Japan, envying train drivers:

“This Tokyu Line employee seemed to have the very soul of a train driver. He had made train driving his religion. He made me feel admiration and jealousy. I wanted his commitment, his dignity. I wanted to wear white gloves and make delicate ceremonial gestures even while doing something completely pragmatic and down-to-earth. I wanted to cry out with ecstasy every time I crossed points. As this driver, I would never feel unimportant. I would feel, in fact, like a star. I would catch glimpses of fascination and envy from children and adults alike. I’d never be surprised to find myself being photographed or filmed. It would seem perfectly natural that video game arcades featured simulations of my job. My glamour would be apparent, though lightly-worn. I would hand over to the next driver with a low bow and a deep sense of satisfaction, not to have the job behind me, but to have the same glories ahead of me tomorrow, and forever. Whatever I was paid would be okay. My reward would be a deep sense of legitimacy. Superlegitimacy, a rich reward.”

He goes on makes a list of “a cluster of ‘irreducibly Japanese values’ which might be hiding in the micro-gestures of some ordinary social interaction”, which sound like beautiful culture ships:

  • Superlegitimacy

  • Mutual capitulation
  • Cute Formalism
  • Society as ‘The Voice of Heaven’
  • The veneration of smallness
  • The universality of fetish
  • Micro-metaphysics
    • the investment of small, practical actions with ‘undue’ gravitas and charisma


I’m really enjoying Momus’s writing in his LiveJournal, but I must confess I’ve never heard any of his music. I’d like to. Any ideas of where I should start?

0 comments
  1. Yoz said:

    The only songs of his I know are, predictably, “Space Jews” and “Finnegan, The Folk Hero Of HTML”

  2. methyl said:

    A few years ago, Le Grand Magistery put out a sampler CD of songs from Momus called ’20 Vodka Jellies.’ It’s a good overview of his career to that point (before the ‘Ping Pong’ album, which is super).

    If nothing else, do check out his song ‘What Will Death be Like?’ on the Poison Boyfriend album.

  3. rich said:

    ’20 Vodka Jellies’ is great, as is ‘The Philosophy of Momus’ if you can find a copy.

  4. rich said:

    ’20 Vodka Jellies’ is great, as is ‘The Philosophy of Momus’ if you can find a copy.

  5. Christian Shields said:

    start off with the forbidden software timemachine album http://www.imomus.com/fst.html. it is a compilation of his creation years. He was creations most prolific and longest standing artist. Thing was that he never made as much money as Oasis. Saw him live once at subterrania and he put on an really awesome show. Enjoy one of the best wordsmiths this country (England) has produced.

  6. Christian L. Shields said:

    Hey, My name is Christian Shields too^^^^

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